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Computer science, journalism and business students collaborate on Android apps

Computer science students Josh Lory and Bryan Baugher are two members of Media Moguls, one of five finalist teams in an RJI-sponsored competition to create new apps for Android’s smartphone.

There’s an Android battle going on at MU!

But don’t worry; swarms of robotic assassins aren’t overrunning the school. The fourth annual RJI Student Competition is between teams trying to create the next hot app for the Android smart-phones.

The contest, sponsored by the Reynolds Journalism Institute, Hearst, Sprint, Google and Adobe — in collaboration with the College of Engineering and the Business School — pits teams of MU students against each other to develop apps that will use Hearst’s existing news media content in innovative ways. To do this, teams of computer science, business, math and journalism majors put their heads together and creatively put their diverse skills to work.

Teams have opted to work on one of eight projects identified by Hearst.

One of the five finalist teams, Media Moguls, is hoping that including everyone in the programming process gives them an advantage.

“We’re trying to be unique, everybody touches it. Even J-schoolers can see the code and see what’s going on,” said Josh Lory, a computer science and math major.

“It makes sense to focus on computer science, most teams have three or more computer science kids,” said Media Mogal teammate Bryan Baugher, also a computer science major. “I’m really glad RJI spent time to put it all together.

Baugher, who said he enjoys programming, originally wanted to be a video game designer, but realized how competitive that job market is.

App development is huge, and mobile development experience really helps in a job interview, explained Lory, who has been involved in programming competitions since he was in Bot-ball, a robotics league in high school. “It’s a pretty big resume booster,” he said.

The programming takes work, but the real challenge is project management. You are on your own timeline, Lory said.

“When we found out we were finalists, I felt a little sad, because I realized how much work it was going to be, but now I’ve been enjoying it,” said Baugher.

“Whichever team wins, it’s a great opportunity,” said Lory, who described the contest as a friendly competition.

Each year the basic competition is the same with interested students coming together at an event allowing them to form into teams. The teams flesh out ideas to pitch to a panel of experts, which selects five finalists. The five finalist teams each received $3,000 to develop their ideas and will spend the couple of months working on the mobile apps that use existing content from Hearst’s newspaper, magazine, television and digital products to reach audiences in new ways through smartphones running Google’s Android operating system.

The five finalist teams recently went to Sprint headquarters, near Kansas City, to see how Sprint was using smart-phone technology.

The teams have until May 10 to develop their entries for the Android competition before presenting them to a panel of judges, all the while gaining practical, real-world experience while working collaboratively on their new applications.



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